A visual artist, poet, performing artist, and actor, Eddie Swayze was born deaf due to rubella (or German measles) in 1964 and grew up in Spencer-Van Etten (a small town near Ithaca, NY). He attended RIT/NTID, then cross-registered into RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (now College of Art and Design) studying illustration; he continued and graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in painting from RIT in 1995.
Swayze subsequently received four grants, two from New York State’s Decentralization Program and two from the New York State Council for the Arts, and exhibited his work at several local galleries, including the Dyer Arts Center. Besides the visual arts, he also has performed poetry in American Sign Language at several local venues and performed in many theatrical productions around Greater Rochester. He also is a member of Dangerous Signs, a troupe that provides American Sign Language poetry, stories, and songs.
Swayze is currently experimenting with digital self-portraits that portray his sexual identity as a gay man. His work includes digital effects that go beyond the standard filters available in applications like Photoshop and which leverage multiple devices ranging in size and capability from a smartphone to a laptop. As a gay artist, Swayze’s emphasis is on dignity and pride, often including rainbows in his work. “Foxy Eddie” shows rainbow-tinted radiance shining down on him as he looks directly at viewers through a fox mask, as though to say: “I’m beautiful and proud.” Swayze expresses a desire to show the world how he feels as a gay man: pride, self-confidence, acceptance, and self-respect.